Who is crazy enough to have a house party in the middle of a kitchen remodel? Um … am I the only one raising my hand? We had planned to have this party in mid-July to coincide with my birthday (I am younger than the house!!) … but we just couldn’t pull it together. In fact, originally we thought we’d show off the completed kitchen, freshly painted exterior, and rebuilt and expanded side porch! HAHAHA!! That’s so deluded.
It became obvious that the kitchen would not be done—forget about any other projects. For a time I considered postponing the party until next summer and calling it a “Second Century” party, but my friends (who would rather party now than wait) convinced me to forge ahead, ready or not. One hundred years only comes around once, they reminded me. And I knew they were right.
Eric and I always design our own original cards, so when I asked him if he had any ideas for our invitation, I was blown away when he produced this from a photo of our house. I plan to frame a print in an oak Craftsman frame as a remembrance.
We don’t entertain very much—people who have lots of pets tend not to, I think. We have seven furry reasons. So for an occasion such as this, I wanted the party to be something special. At one point I had mad visions of live music and a catered spread. Then I paid some bills and came back down to Earth with a thud. It’s more important to have a dishwasher than a live musician.
Eric and I began whipping the house into company shape. At times I got discouraged and whined that we’d never get it done, but, as Eric later pointed out, he ignored me and just kept diligently working away. By Saturday, you could hardly tell the place had been covered in dust and remodeling chaos for the past year. We did it! Whew!!
My décor inspiration came from our prodigious grape vine. How about an Italian outdoor trattoria?
Eric strung rays of white café lights from the eave. Instant magic! I had red-and-white checked tablecloths for our round tables. We rented two more banquet tables but had to settle for plain red tablecloths for them.
An old copper boiler served as our ice chest.
The day before the party, Duke helped me roll and skewer trays of antipasti. Eric and I drank Chianti for weeks so I could create wine bottle centerpieces. Hey, it was a tough job, but we soldiered through!
Finally, the big night came. Guests started arriving in droves (well, they looked like droves to me), and soon the house and deck were full of friends. People brought flowers. And fruit. And wine. And more food. And gifts. My friend Lynne set about arranging flowers. I realized I didn’t know where my vases were packed, but she scrounged enough vessels from here and there.
I tried to spend some time with everyone, but I was drawn in too many directions at once to be very successful at mingling. Eric stationed himself in the kitchen and told the renovation story over and over again as people passed through. He said it was actually more interesting for people to see the remodel in progress rather than seeing a finished kitchen. Hmm … I’ll keep that in mind for our next soiree.
I ordered an undecorated cake and applied my own decoration: the ginkgo leaf logo at the bottom of this post (the bakery wouldn’t do a custom design). We got to this point in the festivities—hours later—when I remembered something.
That’s right … I had forgotten to take any pictures. Most of the preceding photos were taken the day after the party. In my excitement, I also forgot to:
Make the Caesar salad (no one cared; there was so much food)
- Put out the humus and salmon dips (more for us!)
- Turn the lights on in the armoire (damn)
- Take Duke’s blanket off the couch, which I’d spent a good hour de-hairing … for what??
- Offer up the Limoncello (more for us!)
- And put the dang Chianti bottle candles on the tables!
See? Everyone’s inside getting cake. The deck looks deserted.
Some of our friends …
Some of our gifts. Really, you shouldn’t have … but thank you!
Notice the William Morris dandelion wrapping paper? Love it!
Duke was thrilled to see so many people had come to visit him! He was a perfect host.
We had such a fabulous time! We’re already talking about our next party. But right now, we’re exhausted, and we’re heading to the coast for a few days’ R&R before we face the next hundred years.